Open letter to e-book publishers

February 2, 2010

Dear Macmillan and other arrogant publishing companies,

I have a Kindle, first edition. I am part of a target audience for the Kindle and similar devices: I travel a lot, I’m overeducated, and an early adopter of technology (for another example, I bought my first Tivo in 2000).

Recently, there has been a lot of coverage on how the iPad and Nook allow publishers to charge more than the $9.99 that Amazon wants to charge for e-books. Amazon believes that $9.99 is a fair price for an e-book, as the royalty and distribution model don’t require much capital. Macmillan and others believe that this price point is too low, and that books should be more like $12.99-$14.99. This is absurd.

Browsing at Amazon right now, I see that NY Times bestsellers are between….yup, $12.99 and $14.99. So Macmillan would have me buy an e-book for the same price (or even more in some cases) as a hardcover book? The utility of the e-book is less than the hardcover book. I can get money back out of a hardcover book by re-selling it, I can give it to a friend, I can light it on fire and warm my hands. Based on this diminished utility, unless I only read when I travel, why would I buy an e-book? People generally like hardcover books and they don’t require a $200+ reader in order to be able to read them.

I think twice about buying a book at $9.99 unless it’s something I really want to read; at $12.99 or $14.99, I will wait for it to be $7 in a few months. I can read one of  hundreds of thousands of other books in the meantime. Good luck with this totally asinine pricing.

Yours truly,


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One Response to “ Open letter to e-book publishers ”

  1. nonpretentious on February 3, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    I get annoyed when I see e-books selling for $9.99. I like ‘em more around $4.99 because of the points you bring up.

    I use the Kindle app on my iPhone. I read a book and delete it to save space. It’s not very likely that I’m going to re-download it ever again. Even if I do have that option.

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